Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Centerville Conservation Community Trail Ribbon Cutting

Always being on the lookout for a new place to run, I happened to spot this article last Friday in the Tallahassee Democrat:

Conservation community gives back to residents

A new nature trail off of Centerville and Pisgah Church Roads offers residents place to go for relaxation and exercise.

Earlier today, the Centerville Conservation Community held a ribbon cutting ceremony to introduce Tallahassee to an earth-friendly walking path along Centerville Road.

"The pedway (path) is 2-miles long and occupies only 50-acres out of a total of 975," said John Kohler, founder of the Centerville Community.

The trail was mapped so that human impact is minimal. The pavement is pervious, allowing water through to reach plants, and instead of uprooting trees, the path winds around them.

"What we did was to prune back tree roots," said Kohler. "It's like fixing an ingrown toe nail."

Residents are enthusiastic about the new addition to their home sites.

Another article ran the next day, adding some names of enthusiastic residents and quotes from the same:

Well, all the noise made the trail seem worth a visit. It's easy enough to find; easier if you look for it along Pisgah Church Road rather than Centerville Road. And yes, there's a winding trail under the live oaks. Quaint wooden bridges cross the low spots. The route is almost entirely flat; good news to anyone who dislikes hills. But it is paved, which makes it less attractive for running, and it's only two miles long, which doesn't make it terribly useful as a cycling route. Still, it's sitting on a wide enough ribbon of land that an unpaved path for runners and equestrians could be added. As for length, it's always possible that the trail could be extended. For instance, a little bit to the south, a paved trail parallels Centerville Road for about a mile and a quarter between Shamrock Street and Pimlico Drive. If you could add that short trail to the Centerville Conservation Community Trail with another short trail, you'd have at least the beginnings of something grand.

Right now, at only two miles, it's not really worth the trip if you don't live in the area. But if you do live in the area, count yourself lucky.

Monday, July 16, 2007


[ Rescued from one of my old myspace blogs. ]

Cartoonist Jef Mallett tends to get accused of ripping off Bill Waterson, perhaps because of a superficial similarity of drawing style. Or perhaps because Mallet's Frazz and Waterson's Calvin and Hobbes have in common that they're both funny. Lord knows that has been a rare quality on the newspaper funny pages since Waterson pulled the plug on Calvin and Hobbes.

The Frazz of the strip's title is Edwin Frazier, a songwriter by vocation, elementary school custodian by avocation, and triathlete by obsession. Mallett himself is also a triathlete, leading to the occasional fitness joke like the one above. That's something you won't generally see on the comics pages, unless Elly from For Better or For Worse is out suffering through a jog around the block or something.

Rather than continuing to babble excitedly about Frazz, let me go ahead and invite you to try reading a few strips. United Media's site has the most recent month of strips here:

Let me know what you think.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Math Lesson

[ Rescued from one of my old myspace blogs. ]

Suppose it's 2019 and you're writing a story about the Boston Marathon. You know that the Boston Marathon was first run in 1897. Which annual running is taking place in 2019?

Boston isn't the only venerable race around; quite a few Tallahassee road races are approaching a vigorous middle age--or at least the races are older than many of their participants. Figuring out which running of a race is being held is not difficult, but it can be confusing because it's slightly different from figuring out how old a person is. Of course you could simply count, but who wants to take off their shoes and socks just to determine that next year will be 20th Annual Flash 12K? So--before I again hear the question "Which Pine Run is this?"--here is how to find out.

  1. Find out the first year the race was run.
  2. Subtract the first year from the current year.
  3. Add one.

Step 3 is quite important. Without step 3, you'd conclude that the first running of a race was the zero-th running of a race--an absurdity.

The first Pine Run 20K was held in 1977. Which Pine Run will be held this fall?

2007 - 1977 + 1 = 31. This fall will be the 31st Annual Pine Run 20K.


  1. The first Palace Saloon 5K was held in 1975. Which Palace Saloon 5K will be run on 12 April 2008?

  2. The first Turkey Trot was contested in 1976. Which Turkey Trot will be run on the morning of Thanksgiving Day, 2007?

  3. The first Springtime road race was held in 1976. On 29 March 2008 Gulf Winds Track Club will host the _____ Annual Springtime 10K.

  4. Another April race is the Rose City 10K, first held in 1978. Which Rose City 10K will be run in 2008?

  5. A relative youngster on the racing schedule, the first Pot Luck Bash was run in 1998. Which Pot Luck Bash will we enjoy in June of 2008?

In 2008, Jay Silvanima will direct the 34th Annual Tallahassee Marathon. What year was the first Tallahassee Marathon run?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pedestrianism in old Tallahassee

[ Rescued from one of my old myspace blogs. ]

Originally published in The Fleet Foot, June 1989 (Vol. 14 No. 6)


Pedestrianism in old Tallahassee

By Herb Wills

On recreation in the old west, Louis L'Amour wrote that "social activity for families and many others centered around the churches, although there were dances, box suppers, horse races, as well as foot races (a very popular activity)...." Unfortunately, Mr. L'Amour never chose to portray this "very popular activity" in his western fiction, and the sporting events in his novels are usually limited to boxing matches. Tom McNab, former coach of the British Olympic track and field team and author of Flanagan's Run, recently published the first running western, The Fast Men, the adventures of two professional sprinters in the American west of the 1870's. McNab is a serious historian of the sport, and The Fast Men gives you a fair idea of what professional pedestriansism (the nineteenth century term for both competitive running and walking) was like in those days, at least so far as the gambling and other chicanery that went on. Through the 1930's, the story of professional running in America sounds less like Chariots of Fire and more like The Sting.

In 1879 Tallahassee was no longer under the threat of imminent Indian attack, but neither were most of the western settlements. That year the city hosted the first Middle Florida Agricultural and Mechanical Society Fair, half a mile north of what was then the city limits. These fairs continued annually until 1885. Local historians state that "footraces" were among the fair's events, but the Weekly Floridian for that period only mentions such an event as having taken place in 1879. At later fairs, athletics were apparently limited to wheelbarrow and sack races.

Unfortunately, no particulars about the 1879 race or races are recorded anywhere; the distance, times, and winners are all unknown. But an unusual race that took place a few days before the fair opened has been reported.

While the finishing touches were being made on the fairgrounds, a match race ("an exhibition of walkism," the Floridian reporter called it, apparently uncomfortable with the highfalutin' term "pedestrianism") was staged between a Mr. O'Harra and a trotting horse named Gracie D, both from out of town. Gracie D's best time over a mile was 2:26, so in order to make a race of it, O'Harra was to run a quarter mile (a half lap around the track) while the horse covered a half mile (a full lap).

The race began only an hour later than scheduled. O'Harra, resplendent in his suit of racing tights, moved to the far side of the track, while his equine opponent was led to its starting position on the near side. And then they were off. In the early going it looked as if O'Harra would triumph, but Gracie D caught him on the homestretch to win by ten feet. No one thought to time the event, but it must have taken close enough to 75 seconds that O'Harra was definitely running rather than racewalking.

O'Harra told a local reporter that "no three-minute horse" could beat him in such a contest. His plans were to remain in Tallahassee through the fair, presumably to take on the best of Florida's horses in similar competitions. But here the facts end; no such races were recorded.

Suppose that such an event did take place. The owner of a "three-minute horse" might enter his animal against O'Harra, but certainly not with the huge head start that Gracie D gave the ped. However, O'Harra's 75 seconds is not an impressive time for the quarter, even by nineteenth-century standards. Was he really that slow, or was he sloughing? Was the exhibition a set-up for a hustle? We have the lukewarm assurance of the Floridian that "there was no betting, at least none that we were aware of" on the original race, but even that would fit such a scheme. O'Harra and his handlers would have been content to hold their money and wager heavily on a later race with a local horse, perhaps with only a 330-yard head start this time....

But perhaps I slander O'Harra. No story made print concerning a later race, or fleeced Tallahasseans, or tar-and-feathered pedestrians. And I still don't know who won the footrace at the fair.